Africa’s rollout of Digital TV and what it means for the environment

Will Africa mange the switch over to Digital TV?

Although it has myriad of challenges, a number of African countries have insisted on the path toward migrating to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting. This is in line with the resolutions made in 2006 at the Regional Radio Conference in Geneva - termed as the RRC-06. The implication of missing on the deadline is that ITU, which is an international UN specialized agency that administers ICT issues including satellite orbit and spectrum, will not protect analogue transmissions against distortion after the deadline and is targeting at having the analogue transmission finally switched off in 2017. ITU's Director of Radio Communication Bureau has admitted that the process of switching over is long but said that it was upon the African countries previously assisted by the agency in the frequency planning for the switching over, to implement those plans. ITU has previously said that the switching over would leapfrog existing technologies and cut the technology divide.

Countries such as Algeria have already concluded to switch over to digital, credit: Paranormal audio visual

Some countries appear to be meeting head-on the associated challenges such as lack of adequate funds and structures to include stakeholders and local operators, as well as lack of enough regulatory frameworks agreeable among industry players. Kenya and Malawi are at advanced stages for digital terrestrial migration. Rwanda, Algeria, Namibia Mauritius and Tanzania have already concluded the switch over. Taking a look at the leading economies, South Africa and Nigeria, a lot has been done in relation to switching to digital terrestrial transmission. National Broadcasting Commission of Nigeria recently announced that it had achieved a 20% digital transmission penetration by collaborating with digital television service providers, although it said the country would miss the analogue switch off deadline for lack of funds. The country requires N60million to accomplish the switch to digital transmission within 18 months.

Some countries will, however, be exempt from the obligation to meeting the deadline after they requested so, since most of their television sets were operating in the VHF (very high frequency) and not (ultra high frequency). These have a June 2020 deadline to migrate. Cameroon, Morocco, Ghana, Ethiopia are among the 30 countries with an exempt from the deadline. Those not exempt will face the consequences aforementioned. Initiatives such as public awareness on the associated benefits of digital transmission, and adoption of necessary regulatory structures by countries are necessary for more digital penetration. African countries will also need to learn a lot from the developed nations that have successfully overcome challenges in migrating to digital broadcasting.

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